In My Shoes

Bill Neinast

What would you have done in my shoes?

I was the new kid in the neighborhood.  Bob Hatfield, my next door neighbor, took me under his wing.  If he was not away at work, he was in my house or yard to help.  He helped build a nice, sturdy fence around my yard, helped establish the lawn and put in a vegetable garden and flower beds.  In the house, he was a jack of all trades.

Late one evening, as I was visiting Hatfield for a relaxing drink on his patio, Jim McCoy, his neighbor on the other side, burst through the fence with a pistol and ax in his hands.  He was yelling, “This has gone on for way too long, and I am going to take care of it now once and for all.”

McCoy, whom I had known most of my life,  shouted at me, “You’d better get out of the way if you do not want to get butchered!”

It took less than a second for me to decide to run back into my home.

Obviously this is a two pronged parody.  It takes pages out of the Hatfield/McCoy feud and the U.S./Kurd/Turkish feud.  The Hatfield/McCoy feud is long dead, but the other is still boiling.

Our President’s decision to pull our troops out of Syria when Turkey said it was coming in to subdue and occupy an area being held by the Kurds was loudly criticized as an abandonment of our friends and allies.

Initially, that appeared to be legitimate criticism.  The Kurds had done most of the fighting and suffered hundreds or thousands of casualties helping the U.S. crush the ISIS Caliphate in Syria.  Now the Turkish military was moving in to claim property occupied by the Kurds.  They would have to roll over a small contingent of U.S. military personnel to do so.

Our President decided to pull our troops out of the way and not leave them to face possible death.  That generated a storm of criticism about turning our back on someone who had sacrificed so much for us.

As frequently happens, the critics did not bother to consider the facts.  The Kurds are roughly one fourth of Turkey’s population.  They have been in intermittent warfare with Turkey since 1978.  They want to establish an independent nation of Kurdistan.

Conversely, Turkey has been allied with us in NATO since 1952.   Article Five of the organization’s treaty states that if an armed attack occurs against one of the member states, it shall be considered an attack against all members, and other members shall assist the attacked member, with armed forces if necessary.

So if we had stood fast in Syria in front of a Turkish assault and fought back, would that have been an assault under NATO parameters?  Which of the two NATO partners would have been the victim and which would have been the aggressor?  Would the other NATO members have to intervene?   If so, on whose side would they be fighting?

Faced with these facts, our President did what I did as recorded in the first paragraphs.  He left Turkey and the Kurds to continue their long running feud.

He did not, however, remove all the troops from Syria.  Enough armor and soldiers were left to keep the important oil reserves out of the hands of Iran and the remains of ISIS.  That oil will also benefit our allies, the Kurds who still remain in Syria.

So here’s the perspective.

Before criticizing someone or something, it is advisable to be sure you have and understand all the facts.

Now that you have all the facts, would you have done what I did if you had been in my shoes? 



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